caroline-bell-fosterWriting from the tender age of only seven, Caroline Bell Foster knew she had a talent.

Having earned worldwide success with her first novel Ladies Jamaican, ‘The Caribbean’s leading lady of love’ is back with another heart-warming story of a young Jamaican girl and her journey to finally believe in love called ‘Caribbean Whispers’. Flavour caught up with the British born Jamaican author to spill the beans on her latest book, balancing family with career and deciding where home really is.

Caroline congratulations for all your books. Firstly, what is Caribbean Whispers about?
Thank you. Set in Jamaica, Caribbean Whispers tells the tragic, yet, heart-warming story of a young girl and her journey to finally believe in love.

How does it differ to your first book, Ladies Jamaican?
Ladies Jamaican told the story of three very different women and their relationship with each other and the men in their lives. Caribbean Whispers follows the story a one girl and we are with her as she matures into adulthood.

You’ve been dubbed ‘The Caribbean’s leading Lady of Love’, how does that feel?
Fantastic. It’s great to be noticed for what I do. I love writing about love and the complexities of relationships. But I’m glad they said love and not romance as I’d prefer not to be confined to any one genre.

When did you start writing and realise that you have a talent?
I’d never intended to be a writer. But for some reason I was compelled to write about everything and everyone in my life. I had my first diary at seven years of age and it was filled with things like ‘I went dancing today, I hate ballet, I love tap’. By the time I was in my teens I had three diaries going at one time! But I really knew I had something going when I had a friend read a story and she cried exactly where I wanted her to cry. I captured the emotion and loved doing it.

Did you find it hard balancing a family of two children and writing at the same time?
Yes. When my children were little I actually made the hard decision and stopped writing. Having two little ones is exhausting and exhilarating enough. Writing a novel is just as exhausting and exhilarating and I just didn’t have the energy to do both. Although I kept a notepad and pencil with me at all times to jot down ideas. But now my kids are older and I’m back in my creative flow. I have a great support network. My husband is brilliant and doesn’t complain if we’re having pasta for dinner again! And I order everything online.

What inspires you the most when writing?
When the story evolves into something bigger and more exciting than I had ever hoped for.

Some writer’s have to be in a particular zone to start writing; do you have to do set anything to get in the mood?
Vanilla, I like having the scent of it everywhere. Perfume, potpourri, candles and I even have a lip-gloss scented one I wear whilst pounding away at my keyboard at 2am!.

Is there anything you’ve written that you feel relates to you?
No. My characters lives are filled with way too much drama!

How did your first novel come about?
Within 18 months I lost two cousins and an uncle. In my grief I started writing and couldn’t stop. Three months later I had a 140,000 word manuscript, a worn out keyboard and a pretty good story. I was living in Jamaica at the time and sent it off , bound, without any proper margins and single spaced!

Luckily they read it, liked it and asked me to knock off at least 30,000 words and clean it up. They didn’t give me a timeframe so I took a creative writing class, learned the rules, honed my skill and significantly reduced the manuscript. But I kept it.

I wrote Ladies Jamaican instead and gave them that. They loved it and published it that same year. Caribbean Whispers was that very first manuscript.

So, what’s going to be your next step once Caribbean Whispers is out?
Saffron’s Choice is my completed third novel and will be released late 2010. I’m very excited about it as it is set in my home town of Nottingham England and the North Coast of Jamaica. I’m actually ahead of my own personal schedule so I’m casually researching my fourth and fifth novels.

What are your favourite books?
I read everything. But I’m going through a Jodi Picoult phase at the moment.

What advise would you give to all the up and coming writers?
I’ve just started a creative writing class on my Facebook Fan page, so there will be plenty of pointers on that.
But I always advise to read and look at everything with a writer’s eye. It’s never just a tree. Look at the texture, the shape, the colour of the tree, what makes it different from all the other trees. Use all of your senses and become aware of your surroundings.

And finally Caroline where would you call home?
What an unfair question! Jamaica or England? I don’t know…

Words By Nadifa Sheikhey